Saturday, May 21, 2005

Taoism - Alan Watts


Alan Watts (1915-1973), who held both a master's degree in theology and a doctorate of divinity, was a fan of Taoism.

According to Watts, the tao is a kind of order. But don't think of the sort of order where there are lots of straight lines.

Think instead of a plant. A plant is not geometrical looking.

The plant looks like a Chinese drawing. The Chinese understand non-symmetrical order.

In the Chinese language this is called li.

According to Watts, Clouds have li, marble has li, the human body has li. There is no way of defining it.

The patterns of li are also the patterns of flowing water.

The Tao loves and nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them.

Taoism says the lowly position is the most powerful.

To some Americans Taoism may sound lazy and spineless. But Watts points out that "we are always creating trouble by doing good to other people. We wage wars for other peoples benefit, and attempt to help those living in "underdeveloped" counties, not realizing that in the process we may destroy their way of life. Economies and cultures that have coexisted in ecological balance for thousands of years have been disrupted all around the world, with often disastrous results."

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